Tops Market in Southington wins site plan approval

Tops Market in Southington wins site plan approval

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SOUTHINGTON — Tops Market owners have site plan approval for a new grocery store on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike and are waiting on other permits to begin construction.

A fire destroyed the store and contents in March.

Owner John Salerno said he’s focused on the February deadline for reopening the grocery store. In the meantime, he’s trying to do as much catering as possible in addition to guiding the rebuilding efforts.

“There’s so many t’s to be crossed, i’s to be dotted,” Salerno said.

A line of credit helped store owners close the funding gap between the actual cost to rebuild the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike store and what the insurance company will pay. Salerno said they've also made changes to the building to reduce the cost.

Town Planner Rob Philips said the site plan application was fast-tracked since it’s largely a replacement of the old store.

“We did that within 10 days of (the site plan being) submitted,” Philips said. “We’re doing everything we can to get them up and running a soon as possible.”

He said Tops still needs a zoning permit as well as approval from the building and health departments. Leaders from several town departments met with Salerno and engineers for a pre-construction meeting last month.

“They’re on their way,” Philips said.

Salerno wished the process of getting the store running again was moving even faster. Along with catering, he is also working as an Uber driver.

“I’m expecting any day for someone to show up with a backhoe and start digging,” Salerno said.

Salerno said the exterior of the planned building will remain largely the same. Inside, the store will have a modernized look, updated mechanicals and an expanded produce section.

Salerno and Betsy Tooker own Tops, the last of what were a host of independent grocery stores in town.
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